Monday, March 30, 2009

Surviving "SURVIVOR: Laughter Island" Weekend!

(A lot of the decorations were loaned to us by Carol and Larry B. We named this guy "Crush" after the one in Finding Nemo")

This past weekend was our annual Women's retreat at church. Our theme was Survivor: Laughter Island. We are all survivors of something in our lives, for example I have survived unwed motherhood (twice), divorce, open-heart surgery, losing my sister to breast cancer...and turning 50. Not to mention 6 teenage children/step-children (so far), and a twelve year old who has been acting like a teenager for as long as I can remember.

Anyway, since 3 of my bffs are on the women's ministry team at our church, they recruited me to help out. Lisa AKA Our 7 QTpies is the chairperson, and Jody and Anna, (who is moving forward and happily), are the others on the board. On Thursday night, while Lisa and Anna went to borrow some "totally awesome" decorations from another church member, Jody and I went shopping for groceries and supplies for the retreat. We were not at Wallyworld long, when the other two called and said they'd meet us there. After shopping, we decided to go to Applebees for half-price appetizers and ended up staying there until midnight...and then went to church to drop off all the groceries etc that we had bought. It was after 1:00AM that night before we got home. Yes, we are crazy...but I love my crazy friends!

Friday night, the retreat started out with an "ice-breaker" game, literally. The contestants had to get as many marbles out of an ice-filled tub as they could...with their toes. We were afraid some of them would get "cold feet" and not want to play this game, but they were all good sports. Above is my daughter Jessica, searching for her marbles. Below, is our bloggy friend, "Daisy" trying her feet as it it. Looks like fun, huh?

Next, we had a delicious meal, prepared by our good friend, Jody (who also has a blog called "Make a Joyful noise, even if it hurts Momma's ears!)" It was called Javanese dinner and was a mixture of all sorts of things, like chicken, gravy, rice, veggies, pineapple, and coconut. Some people were a little nervous about trying all those things layered together, but it tasted absolutely wonderful! Thanks so much Jody!

After dinner, we were treated to a hilarious skit by Betty and Cheryl. I won't go into the was not recorded and no pictures were taken of it...which is a good thing! It just wasn't the type of thing you'd want to fall into the wrong hands! I did hear rumors of one picture existing on someone's cell phone, however. After the skit, it was time for our awesome speaker, named Karla Heeter. Karla is a cancer SURVIVOR, the author of "The LMNOP's of Surviving Cancer" and one funny lady! I didn't actually get any pictures of her at the retreat, as I was too busy laughing while she was speaking to us. This is a picture of her though:

She was talking about the importance of pap smears and mammograms etc. as ways to prevent cancer...not exactly things you would think being humourous, but she brought up some of the things that we ALL do when we go in for these tests...for instance, why do we hide our underwear inside of our jeans when we are told to disrobe from the waist down and cover up with a large paper towel??? I know I do...and you know you do too...which is why we were all laughing hysterically. Check out Karla's website here.

After Carla's entertaining and informative talk, we listened to another good friend of mine, Sarah (AKA Sassyfrazz), sing "Held" by Natalie Grant. Here is a short video snippet of her singing:

Then it was time for testimonies. We heard 3 very moving testimonies from 3 of the ladies at the retreat. Obviously, I will not go into any details, or even tell you who these women were, in the interest of privacy. They are not my stories to tell...but they are definitely all SURVIVORS!

When the "formal" part of the evening was finished, we had fun just sitting and sharing snacks and fellowshipping with one another. We had some other games and things planned, but everyone seemed to enjoy just spending time together. Above is Jody's little one, "K". She was the littlest lady there of all. We also had 2 grown men (running the sound and video), and one cute little man there as well...but I didn't get a picture of him. I had the bandana on my head, but K kept grabbing for it, so I put it on her. Pretty cute, don't ya think?

Eventually, everyone who had decided to stay settled in for the night and some of us were watching a Tim Hawkins video. Everyone else only lasted about 15 minutes into it, but I SURVIVED and OUT LASTED everybody! Since no one else was up at that time, I took a picture of the clock to prove how late I was up. I'm sure I could have stayed up the rest of the night, but what does one do all alone in a church overnight while all their friends are asleep?

(if you look closely here, you can see the two men that were allowed to be at most of the retreat)

The next morning, as Jody was flipping pancakes and making sausage for us, the ladies played a few more games. One was an egg/water carrying relay. That was great fun, but I didn't get any pics of it. Another fun game that morning, was digging for plastic bugs in "used" kitty litter.

Above, fellow blogger, Cindy, (Canoearoos) is trying to find treasures among the soggy wet kitty litter. Actually, it was brand new kitty litter, with a few appropriately places tootsie rolls in it. Anna had gotten a little carried away with the amount of water she'd poured in this tub...but that made it even more fun. I just noticed I do have a picture of the "little man" that was there. He's being held here by Betty. He is Sassyfrazz's youngest.

After breakfast, was a fun Fear Factor style eating contest. Above, is Kathy preparing Betty for her particpation in it. The ladies were waiting for their course of the dinner to be revealed here.

Below, Padma makes a lovely expression after downing her "hundred year old ostrich egg", which was really an apricot floating in sauerkraut juice! Mmmm....I actually love sauerkraut juice myself, but even I would have a hard time with the apricot in it. Ewww!

All of the ladies were great sports about it though, And Carol H. even lucked out with a yummy cupcake for desert...but she had a hard time swallowing the gummy bug topper on it.

The retreat ended with door prizes handed out by our amazing Ladies Ministry team shown above. Thank you so much, Jody, Lisa and Anna, a great time was had by all...How are you going to top this one next year??

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Wordless Thursday?

I had a great picture I was going to post yesterday...and forgot about it. We were at Molly's concert last week and CJ decided to take a couple of pictures with my camera. First he took a picture of Grandpa's arm, then a not-so-flattering one of my face then a picture of the back of the lady's head who was sitting in front of him...and then he turned the camera around to take one of himself:

Sorta up close and personal...don't ya think?

Okay, maybe it wasn't so "wordless" after all.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

One Big Happy Family!

My niece, Jackie first became a foster parent back in 1997, when she and her first husband, took in a little girl named Krissy, who was 5 years old, and her half-brother Joey who was 7. Joey went to live with his biological father a little over a year later, but Krissy stayed with Jackie for another year, before going back to live with her maternal grandmother. Meanwhile, they took in little Alyshia, who was just a few months old when she came to live with them. Later on, a set of 3 siblings; Tiffany, Jannessa and Timmy all came to live with them too. Jackie and her husband adopted baby Alyshia, and the other 3 siblings continued to live with them as foster children for the time being.


Eventually, Jackie and her first husband divorced, and agreed to share joint custody of their daughter Alyshia. The three foster children stayed with Jackie, even through this difficult time.

Jackie soon met her current husband Jim, who was also divorced, with 2 children of his own named Austin and Colton. When they met, Jackie and Jim found out that they had something very special in common. They both loved children...especially those that were not easily placed into new families. For example, those with special needs, or those who happen to be a little older than most potential adoptive parents are looking for...or a set of three siblings, who want to stay together in the same family. They married in 2001 and adopted Tiffany, Jannessa and Timmy.

Through the years, Jackie and Jim have taken in over 100 children, some short term, others for longer, and then a couple of years ago, Jackie's very first foster child, Krissy came back into their lives. Krissy came back to live with them, along with her younger sister, Cassie, who was just 4 days old when Krissy first became a part of Jackie's life. The family has recently adopted both girls, making them a permanent part of their happy home. When Krissy was a little girl, Jackie had given her the nickname "Chrysanthemum." When she was adopted, Krissy decided to make it official, legally changing her name to "Krysanthemum", or Kryssy. They also changed Cassie's name to Lily at that time, after Jim's mother. Here are their two little "flowers":

(Kryssy) (Lily)

I also learned less than a year ago, that Kryssy and Lily's older brother Joey had been going to the same church as I was, for the past few years. I knew Joey from church, but did not recognize him as the little boy that used to live with my niece. So now, he is part of our large extended family too. Coincidentally, he is best friends with the son of one of my best friends. I did a post about some of the strange "coincidences" I've found among people from my church and me.

Jackie and Jim are pictured here in the back row between foster children, Tanya and Eric. Seated on the couch are: Timmy, Desirae, Alyshia, Tiffany, and Lily. Jannessa and Kryssy are in front.

The family currently consists of 10 children, aged 11-21. Jackie and Jim are in the process of adopting former foster daughter, Desirae. She is now 19 years old, and engaged to be married soon. Desirae would like to be an official part of the Feiler family by the time her dad, Jim walks her down the aisle in October of this year.

Jackie and Jim Feiler of Luxemburg with their children Austin, 14; Colton, 12; Desirae, 19; Kryssy, 16; Jannessa, 17; Alyshia, 11; Lily, 11; Tim, 16; and Eric, 14, on March, 17. (Jason Wachter,

The St. Cloud Times featured an article on this amazing family in last Sunday's paper. Click Here to read it. One reason for the newspaper article, was that Jackie and Jim have been named the Special Needs Foster Care Providers of the Year by the Minnesota Social Service Association. They will receive this award today. Congratulations, Jackie and Jim! God bless you and yours.

Monday, March 23, 2009

"The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived ~ Book Review & Giveaway!

Stephen K. Scott, author of "The Richest Man Who Ever Lived", in which his readers learned how to use the lessons found in Proverbs to achieve success in their lives, has come out with a brand new book entitled "THE GREATEST MAN WHO EVER LIVED; SECRETS FOR UNPARALLELED SUCCESS AND UNSHAKABLE HAPPINESS FROM THE LIFE OF JESUS"

In The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived, Scott guides readers in a step-by-step application of the life-changing principles, skills, and methods that Jesus used throughout his earthly life. Although believers may spend a lifetime learning from Jesus’ teachings, it’s easy to overlook the powerful lessons demonstrated in His life. But when these incomparable lessons are learned and put to use, they enable ordinary people to achieve extraordinary success and happiness.

From Jesus’ earthly life readers will learn:

  • How to break through the barriers that prevent them from achieving extraordinary success at work and relational success at home.
  • How to experience a level of happiness and fulfillment that nothing the world offers can duplicate.
  • How to use adversity and opposition as a springboard for greater success.
  • How to love others in a way that increases their love as well.

    No matter what a person’s area of expertise and in what setting a person influences others, living by the principles of Jesus’ life on earth produces extraordinary success, unprecedented achievements, personal fulfillment, and blessings for others.

This book also tells you how to find people that may have different strengths, weaknesses and talents than you do, to partner with to help you reach your goals.

You are either a Lion, an Otter, Golden Retriever, or Beaver...or some combination of them. I discovered that I am a mix of mostly Golden Retriever (loyal), and Beaver (I like to do things right and in my own time), followed by the Otter, (playful?) and lastly a Lion (leader). You can find this printable personality quiz and also more about this terrific author at check it out!

Steven K. Scott is the best-selling author of The Richest Man Who Ever Lived, The Greatest Words Ever Spoken, and Mentored by a Millionaire. After failing in nine jobs, he started reading a chapter of Proverbs every day—and the wisdom of Scripture changed his life. Scott and his business partners have built more than a dozen multimillion-dollar companies from scratch, achieving billions of dollars in sales. He is the co-founder of Max International, Total Gym Fitness, and The American Telecast Corporation. He is a popular international speaker on the subjects of personal and professional achievement and the application of biblical wisdom to every area of life.

The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived is available from: for $19.95

If you'd like a chance to win a hardcover copy of this book, just leave me a comment after this post. You can come back each day and leave one comment per day, for more chances to win. This contest is open to all continental US residents and will end on April 18th, 2009. Good Luck!

Happy 27th Birthday, Jessica Christine & Tonia Bean!

Twenty-seven years ago today, at 5:57AM I gave birth to my biggest baby. Jessica weighed 9 lbs 8 oz. and was 22 inches long. Here is a picture of her celebrating her 1st birthday with her cousin, my Goddaughter, Tonia. Tonia is exactly one week older than Jess. Also pictured are her Aunt Kathy, cousin Jackie, and and big brother Jeremy peeking his head into the picture. Not pictured here, is her younger brother, Joel. He would not make an appearance for almost another 3 months. Yes, I was big and pregnant with the next one already. As you can see, I hadn't really gotten into the whole cake decorating thing yet. And yes, there are 2 candles for each one-year-old.

Jessica specifically asked me NOT to do her entire life story here, (like I did for her brother Jeremy), so I will respect her wishes...just wait 3 years, when she hits the big 3-0 too...and then...we'll see. I'll just post one more recent picture, of her to show you what a beautiful woman she's become.
The above picture was take a couple of days ago by her four-year-old son, CJ. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JESSICA!!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Think Thin Thursdays~ Weekly Weigh-In #3

Well, I had really no significant change in weight this week. I may have lost .4 lbs. That's about it. I suppose maintaining isn't all bad when I consider everything I had going on over the past week. First there was LNO, and then I just had to have me a cream cheese danish on Saturday morning, since I was selling them. Saturday night at the CC, we had pizza for dinner. I tried to cut a few calories by having the chicken pizza...but I may have eaten a bit too much.

I'm going to set a goal to lose at least two pounds in the next week. I'd like to get out and go for a walk again...if the weather cooperates. It was really nice and warm here last week, even reaching 60 degrees one day. The only problem is, with all the snow meltage...that just created mud on our dirt roads...not what I'd like to walk in. The countdown is on now to my one year weight loss journey. I'd really like to at least get back to where I was. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Wordless Wednesday #24 ~ CJ's New Tasty McTreat

Chicken Nuggets dipped in Caramel...and then ketchup!

Hey, as long as he EATS them!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Just How Irish Am I Anyway? ~ A Little More "Jeannie-ology" Updated

Seein' as how it's St. Patrick's Day and all, and I know that I do have a little green blood flowing through my veins, I thought that I would try to figure out just exactly how much.

According to my mother's autobiography, "The First 75 Years ~ Le Nore Ann Lansing Felix" my great-great grandfather, Barney Gilbride met and married my great-great grandmother, Bridget Bondie on a ship coming to the US from Ireland during the potato famine. So I'm pretty sure we can safely assume they were 100% Irish. Also, according to her book, they were the first settlers West of the Des Moines River. They had a daughter named Sarah Gilbride on January 30th 1872. That would make Sarah also 100% Irish, right?

She married Ezra Lansing on January 4, 1899. I believe this is a wedding picture of my great-grandparents:

Ezra was the son of John Oscar Lansing. He was born in Storey County, IA on October 25, 1876, but I don't see anything about what country the Lansings came from, so I'm going to say that my Grandpa Donald Lansing was half Irish. Update: My mother sent me an email saying that my Grandpa was not half Irish, she said he was about 90% Irish.

Grandpa Donald married my grandmother, Hazel Carew in May of 1928. Her father's name was Bill Carew, and he was 100% Irish. (I wondered about this one when I originally wrote this, becaus he had bright red hair. Her mother, my great-grandma Ann Foehrenbacher was all German, so Grandma was HALF Irish and half German.

Grandpa and Grandma visited Ireland back in the late sixties I believe. I remember them telling us that they kissed the Blarney stone...which is supposed to give you the "gift of gab". We're pretty sure though, that Grandpa Donald ALWAYS had the gift of gab...and Grandma Hazel always said he was "full of Blarney". They sent each one of us grandkids a postcard from Ireland. Here's mine:
Interestingly enough, of their 35 grandchildren, their sister, Peggy and their cousin Laura, were BOTH born on St. Patrick's Day!

Happy Birthday, Peggy and Laura!

So, if Grandpa was 90% Irish, that would make my mother, LeNore (Lansing) Felix 3/4 Irish. She married my dad, Myron Felix, who as far as I know is half German and half Welsh...making me .375 Irish + .375 German + .25 Welsh. I think.

What A Weekend Part 3 ~ The Cousin Connection!

Last, but certainly NOT least, after the Awana Derby/Float-a-Boat, we cleaned up and went home for a couple of hours. Then we loaded up the karaoke equipment and headed to the Kelly Inn in S.C. for the "Cousin Connection" get-together. I did catch a bit of a nap on the 40 minute drive there.

The idea for this whole thing came about when my cousin, Marty and my sister Kathy put their heads together and decided that all of us first-cousins needed to get to know each other again. After all, we used to hang out together as kids, and even though most of us still live in Minnesota, we barely know each other anymore.

The above picture is Marty, Kathy and my sister Laurie, who saw to it that we had door prizes. I can't remember which one Marty won here though. They had a prize for the couple that was married the longest, (Cindy and Dan), the one who came the farthest, (Mona from Rochester), the ones with the most kids, (Don and Shawn who just had child number 7 last week), the ones that got their first, (us because we set up the karaoke). There were also prizes for the oldest, (Sue's bf Denny), and the youngest, (Bob's wife Rose). Actually, neither the oldest (Peggy) nor the youngest (Laura) were there. Coincidentally, they share a birthday TODAY and are exactly 18 years apart! Happy St. Patty's Day Birthday to BOTH of you!

First of all, there was a "social hour", here's a bunch of people being "social".

Next we had a Pizza bar from "Green Mill" next door.

After dinner, we started singing karaoke. I was glad to see that we "Felix kids" weren't the only ones participating. There are a lot of talented singers in the entire Lansing clan!

Here's Cindy's hubby, Dan. He's a very good singer. Well, at least Cindy thought so! Just kidding, he really was a great singer.

Here's Don, Mona and Sarah singing "Too-ra-Loo-ra-Loo-ra" -that's an Irish Lullaby. I guess they were trying to put us all to sleep.
I think this one was, "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling". Can you tell there's a bit of Grandpa Donald's Irish blood running through all of our veins? We toasted him, and also did a toast to our two "St. Pat's". We lost our Sister, Patty to breast cancer almost 6 years ago at age 43, and sadly, our cousin Patrick just passed away in February of a melanoma skin cancer at the age of 51. I'm pretty sure their "Irish Eyes" were smiling down on all of us that night.

Here's my brother Bob, trying to find his lost shaker of salt:

A little later on, my cousin Sarah had a brilliant idea. She thought it would be fun to have EVERYONE, (in-laws and outlaws included), run from one end of the room to the other and line up in order of age. There was to be no talking during this exercise, and we'd just see how well we did. Actually, it was kinda fun...and we weren't too far off. We had already established who was the oldest and youngest there. We just had to find our place in the whole scheme of things.

Here we go, from Rose and Kathy, (who are still 39 and "holding")...

to Joyce, Marina, Donny, Fuzz, Susette, Jenny, Mike, Sherry, Lori, Jill, Bob...

...Doug, Tracy, Sarah, Randy, Don B., Connie, Steve M., Cindy and Marty, (who are all 40-something)...

To Mona, Jim B., me, Dan, Tom, Joe Walsh (Marina's hubby), Sue, Dan E. Steve S., Laurie, Ray and Denny P. who all range in age from 50-55 years old, believe it or not. We did end up having to do a little bit of switching during the picture taking, so I'm not sure if I got everyone here.

Eventually, my camera sort of ended up as the party camera, people were picking it up and snapping pictures...which was fine, I just had no idea what I was going to find on it! I guess I should have warned them that if I find it on my camera, and it's "bloggable", it just might end up here for all the world to see. I'm not really sure what this one was all about, what was this, Jill?


After a while, the crowd thinned out and a lot of people went home. We had decided to stay, we were at a hotel after all. We ended up hanging out in Cindy and Dan's room until 3AM! Security only had to come and tell us to quiet down once. Dan said the guy had his taser drawn! Cindy said that if they came back again, she was going to tell them, " Oh, thank God you're here, I've been trying to get these people to leave for hours!" We did have a LOT of fun, and then Sunday morning, good ol' cousin Marty had arranged for a poolside breakfast buffet for those that stayed or wanted to come back for it. We all had a great time, even though I ended up sleeping most of Sunday away trying to recover from the approximately 5 hours of sleep I'd gotten in the previous 48!

Anyway, a good time was definitely had by all, and we've decided to not only make this an annual event...we're going to plan a Summer get-together too! So all y'all cuzins that live a "fur piece" from the rest of us, can make plans to attend the next one. Thanks for all you did to make this thing happen, Kathy and Marty!!!

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